Maybe you are a great cook but your cooking is lacking that extra oomph factor. Maybe you have chosen to stay in safe recipe space until now. But it does not have to be this way: boring dishes can be brought back to life with the most simple of ingredients. Salads, sauces, glazes, desserts. There is nothing balsamic vinegar will not do! The best balsamic vinegar you can find will be dark, sweet and intensely flavored. Versatility is a result of these— oh so delicious— qualities. Traditionally produced in Italy, vinegar might seem like an exotic product. So, how to choose the best one there is?
Table of Contents
- Comparison of 8 Best Balsamic Vinegar in 2020
- Top 8 Best Balsamic Vinegar reviews in 2020
- Different Types of Balsamic Vinegar and What They Mean
- How Do You Choose the Best Balsamic Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar Recipes
- Dress, Serve, Love
Comparison of 8 Best Balsamic Vinegar in 2020
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Top 8 Best Balsamic Vinegar reviews in 2020
As a passionate and dedicated cook, I love dressings, spices, and other embellishments for the food I create. I bet you do too! To bring you only the best of the best, I have created this list of reviews for commercially available balsamic vinegar products.
This balsamic vinegar is produced at a family estate near Modena, Italy. The production has been going on for a century— a product with history! It is prepared by a professional chef from local grape produce and it is best described as dark and rich. The aging process for this best balsamic vinegar lasts from 10 to 15 years: it is traditionally crafted!
- Makes an amazing glaze! Its smooth, rich, and concentrated texture are ideal for a glaze that is dense and sweet.
- It goes well with saltier cheeses like Parmiggiano.
- The packaging is upscale, artistic, and lovely!
- Its smoothness might not please the more acidic-loving crowd.
The MiaBella Balsamic Vinegar is a certified traditionally-made Modena balsamic. It comes in a bottle of 8.5 ounces (250 ml.) that is dark and suits the mood of the product. It contains no added ingredients and is aged for up to 18 years: way better than the best supermarket balsamic vinegar!
- This might be the single most versatile balsamic vinegar on this list. It matches anything from meat to ice cream.
- Smoother than most balsamic vinegars, it has less acidic content.
- The 18 years of aging really show: you can taste the wood— in a pleasant way!
- It is thick— and gets even thicker as you use it. The reason is unknown but, after a few uses, it might start to look and taste more like caramel than balsamic vinegar.
The Saba of Acetaia Leonardi is cooked-down must: not exactly best balsamic vinegar but condiment. This means it has been aged for less than one year and is not nearly as thick and intense as the fully aged product. Light in both texture and color, the Saba is great for dressing salads and other dishes on short notice.
- The color, while not the typical dark brown of true balsamic vinegar, is lovely.
- The taste is excellent for a condiment. It has hints of its developed counterpart.
- Tip: it goes well with yogurt.
- The manufacturer does not include a lot of information about the Saba’s production process.
The balsamic vinegar created by Malpighi, although aged for 8 years, is also marketed as a condiment. This is because it has not gone through the necessary and standardised process to officially become a balsamic vinegar. It comes in a very fancy glass bottle containing 6.76 ounces (200 milliliters) and is, as its name indicates, flavorful (saporoso).
- The packaging is superb. It makes you feel like you are dining in a high-end Italian restaurant.
- It has a spout for pouring without splattering the condiment everywhere.
- Not as sweet as other balsamic vinegars. If you do not like the acidic notes to be dominant, you will not like the Malpighi Saporoso.
Ariston has produced a wonderful best Balsamic Vinegar: its 8.45 ounces of pure goodness make it the best white balsamic vinegar. It has fruity, delicate hints that make it go well with seafood and desserts. White wine is the best drinking choice if you use this balsamic.
- Zesty balsamic condiment: without the full heaviness of dark, developed balsamic vinegar, the Ariston has a playful feel to it.
- The makers have been in business for 300 years. Talk about history!
- Sweet and smooth: fruit and salads love it.
- Can be too mild and sweet for someone used to the heavier stuff.
- Not very consistent: as a condiment, it is quite runny and will not add much in terms of texture.
Family-made in Sicily, this product is a little bit far from the typical region in which balsamic vinegar is produced. However, it is of great quality! It uses, instead of the typical Emilia Reggio and Modena grapes, local ones: moscatello, catterato, and inzolia.
- A production doled out in small batches means the Papa Vince is exclusive.
- Something different in terms of taste! It is nice to add a little variety in the kitchen every now and then. That is why I like to store this product next to my usual balsamic.
- That said, I am a sucker for the traditional, so I do not like this product as much as I would if it were from the right region.
The 250 milliliters in a QO best Balsamic Vinegar are organic as well as traditionally made and aged, according to official rules, in wooden barrels. This balsamic vinegar has a low acidity percentage (4%) and comes in a beautiful, recyclable glass bottle.
- Organic certification for my peace of mind.
- High density that is not artificially created. Instead of adding chemicals to make it taste and feel better, the QO Balsamic Vinegar is thickened using the traditional, rooted method.
- It keeps a good balance between tangy and sweet. Neither overwhelms the other.
- They do add aged wine vinegar to finish the product. However, as it is organic wine vinegar, I am on the verge between critical and supportive.
Also Read: Best Apple Cider Vinegar in 2020
This product is certified as IGP. This means that the Gourmet Living is, though not traditional, an official balsamic vinegar from the correct traditional region. Though not aged for as long as a fully traditional balsamic vinegar, it has been stored in wooden barrels and keeps their woodsy, spicy flavor.
- Isn’t the packaging lovely? The shade of purple in the box and label make the Gourmet Living look luxurious.
- Sweeter and denser than most balsamic vinegars: the texture of this product is to die for!
- The best balsamic vinegar for salad dressing!
- As it tastes more woodsy than fruity, those palates that are not used to intense flavors will not like it.
Different Types of Balsamic Vinegar and What They Mean
There are many “balsamic vinegar” products on the market, but what are they, really?
All these products are made from pressed grape must, but there are three main types that are protected (you know exactly what you are getting and the authenticity of the product is kept intact). These types are:
- Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena: this traditional balsamic vinegar is made from reduced grape must. It has to be stored and aged in several wooden barrels for many years. This vinegar is typical of the region of Modena, Italy.
- Traditional vinegar of Reggio Emilia: Made in a similarly traditional way, this balsamic vinegar belongs to the region around the city of Reggio Emilia, among rolling hills.
- Balsamic vinegar of Modena: usually less expensive, this type of balsamic vinegar takes much less time to produce. It is made from wine vinegar that is added to a grape must and sugar mixture. It’s also made in the regions of Modena and Reggio Emilia. It is aged for at least 2 or 3 months, reaching sometimes up to two years.
The first two types of balsamic vinegar tend to be more expensive because of their longer and more involved production process. However, whichever product you get that has any of these three stamps on it is guaranteed to be of good quality.
The stamps with these origin names are created and handed out by international organs that look for quality, use of authentically traditional methods, and proof of true origin. Any of the three types of real balsamic vinegar is a great addition to your pantry!
How Do You Choose the Best Balsamic Vinegar
There are so many options! And all of them look tasty! What is a foodie to do? Most of the balsamic vinegar products out there are great, but they are not all created equal! There are differences in the type of fabrication process, taste, budget, and quality. This last point is moot: in this list of reviews you can find the best balsamic vinegars available. But what about everything else?
What is the Use You Will Give Your Balsamic Vinegar?
Maybe you are hosting a fancy dinner for the new boss you want to impress into handing you a promotion or important project. Maybe you are throwing together a quick Wednesday night dinner for you and your best friend (who does not particularly care for being impressed).
If you want to create a truly fancy meal and then list off all of the ingredients and impress the guests with your food savviness, traditional is the way to go. You can even go all out and make it all Italian-themed! Think traditional pasta from the Emilia Romagna region, gelato, and real Italian wine to go with your balsamic vinegar glaze or sauce. Bonus points for Italian words: Buon appetito!
What is Your Budget Like?
There is a cold, hard truth: traditional, authentic, and elaborate balsamic vinegar usually costs a lot more than products made in a faster, more industrialized way.
So, if you have the budget to go all out on your meal, go ahead and do so! But, if you want to get the best bang for your buck, you will be better off saving that traditional, exotic item for a special dinner and using a cheaper version instead. As long as you pick a less pricey product from the range I have reviewed, you will be all right!
What Are the Differences in Taste?
True balsamic vinegar that is made traditionally is generally darker and has a more intense flavor. The texture itself becomes more viscous because of the aging method (the vinegar is put into more and more concentrated wooden barrels).
Non-traditional vinegar contains many added ingredients (such as stabilisers, thickeners, and caramel) to imitate the taste and texture of the original product. Sometimes it comes out tasty. Other times, not so much.
It mostly comes down to what you are willing to pay and to whether the difference in taste is important enough to you to justify spending more on a traditional product.
Balsamic Vinegar Recipes
So much talk about the best aged and the organic balsamic vinegar, but what can you actually do with it? This ingredient is versatile and can be a lot of fun if you know how to use it!
Easy Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
Who does not want a glaze you can drizzle over pasta, meat dishes, salads, and— even!— desserts? This simple recipe using the best balsamic vinegar will take any dish from blah to absolutely fabulous with its zing and sweetness!
- Grab a saucepan with sides that are at least two inches high.
- Pour balsamic vinegar into it (whatever kind you choose): about two or three cups (you can vary the amount for a more tangy taste).
- Mix with two big spoonfuls of brown organic sugar.
- Heat the pan up to medium temperature while stirring the mixture constantly (it is best to use a wooden spoon!).
- Keep stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
- When it boils, take the heat down to the lowest point and let it stay there until the amount of liquid is halved.
- You will know it is ready when you dip the back of a metal spoon and the paste sticks to it!
- Turn of the fire and leave it alone until it cools down. Then put it in a glass jar and straight into the fridge until you need it.
Queen of Every Party: Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette
Many people ask me what is the best balsamic vinegar dressing. And few things sound as fancy as “balsamic vinegar vinaigrette”, am I right? And it is not a hard dressing to make at all!
You will need: a glass jar, three spoonfuls of— preferably virgin olive— oil, one spoonful of vinegar, a pinch of salt and a dash of fresh Cayenne or black grinded pepper.
It is as easy as combining all the ingredients in the jar, closing it, and shaking it hard! You can add more spoonfuls of virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the same proportion to increase the final quantity of vinaigrette.
You can also vary the proportion: more oil if you want the final product to be smoother, more vinegar if you want it more tart! Bonus points if you add extra ingredients such as spring onions, cardamom, or other types of pepper.
Dress, Serve, Love
Once you have found your best balsamic vinegar for salad, ice cream, or glaze, it is time to dress— your food— to impress! Now you will be able to add a touch of sophistication and Old World charm to any meal. So pick the best vinegar, buy, and prepare to dazzle!